District Connection - 12/2/2019
When you think of the month of November, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the Thanksgiving holiday. However, November is also when we celebrate National Adoption Month.
During Thanksgiving, we are fortunate to see friends and family that we haven’t in a long time. It’s important to remember that there are many Americans who are not so lucky. There are currently thousands of international adoptees who were legally adopted as children by U.S. citizens but were not granted citizenship due to a flaw in our legal system. Representative Adam Smith and I introduced the Adoptee Citizenship Act to grant these children the citizenship that they should always have had, and to fix this injustice once and for all.
To learn more, click on the image below to read our op-ed in The Hill:
Week after week, I share stories with you all about the volunteer work and charitable successes achieved by our friends and neighbors throughout the district. Whether it’s small school groups coming together for a food drive or the entire community raising money for a noble cause, there is no shortage of work being done to help those in need. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to help an organization like March of Dimes when they made the call.
Many of you are familiar with the work of March of Dimes and may have even supported the organization in the past as they work to provide services for mothers and their babies throughout the United States. They have built up a vibrant staff that help the organization execute its core mission and support tens of thousands of families each year. And in supporting their staff, March of Dimes provides for a pension plan that allows it to retain employees and send them into retirement with financial certainty. However, federal rules will make it prohibitive for the March of Dimes to meet its obligation to its pension fund next year as it is mandated that the organization’s contribution must increase by a whopping 1,800% − funding that will have to be diverted from helping mothers and babies.
The issue here is not about changing the rules for some so that they may renege on the promises they made to their employees. Instead, it is about allowing for flexibility in the statutory pension plan contribution formula so that major not-for-profit organizations are not held to the same rules as for-profit entities who benefit from a strong economy and low interest rates. In fact, we had made this fix before when organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, and other large nonprofits were facing similar circumstances back in 2014.
Today, H.R. 5202, the “Protecting Critical Services for Mothers and Babies Act,” will extend the same carveout for March of Dimes. This organization should not have to choose whether to help its employees retire with dignity and financial security or continue its core mission in service to others. I am proud to help lead this bipartisan, bicameral, commonsense legislation so that March of Dimes is free to make the financial decisions necessary to ensure the solvency of its pension program and that mothers and babies continue to receive the vital support they need.
Among the many things we must be thankful for, our veterans and their service to our country is undoubtedly one that will be mentioned at many tables this Thanksgiving. While some of us are fortunate enough to have a veteran sitting at the table who we can thank directly, many families are left with an empty seat for someone who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This is an honor that no family wishes to bear, but it is a situation in which our Gold Star families find themselves. Gold Star families are families who have lost a loved one in military service, and we are forever indebted to them for their extraordinary sacrifice. That is why I was honored by the opportunity to introduce the bipartisan H.Res. 706, with my fellow Georgian in the House of Representatives, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04). This resolution would designate November 9th as “Gold Star Father’s Day” nationally. While Gold Star Mother’s Day was created nationally with a joint resolution in 1936, there is not a national Gold Star Father’s Day. It is my hope that this resolution ensures that those who made the ultimate sacrifice will be remembered for generations well beyond our years.
Social Security scams have run rampant in recent years. These scams—where con artists mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problems—skyrocketed over the past year to become the number one type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
It bothers me that the federal government has not yet been able to stop these crooks from stealing from some of the most vulnerable members of our society. To help track these criminals down and stop them, the Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have launched a new online form that you can use to report Social Security-related scams. The new online forms will capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities to help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams.
I would encourage you to report any Social Security scams that you, or your loved ones encounter. This includes robocalls and live callers, as well as email, text, and in-person scams. The form allows you to create a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN), which helps the OIG contact a person about their report. This PIN will let the individual know whether or not a call is legitimate.
Awareness is our best hope to thwart these scammers. I hope you share this new reporting system with your friends and family and use the online forms whenever you receive a fraudulent call. Most importantly, just hang up on the scammer or ignore the calls entirely if such an instance were to occur.
We are almost one month away from entering a new decade, and as national attention turns toward the 2020 race for the White House, many different policy proposals have garnered public attention. One such proposal is the idea of bailing out college graduates with student loan debt.
Patricia from Cumming:
Americans, like me, are bearing the weight of a student debt crisis.
Many of us are struggling to save for retirement, unable to purchase a home, harassed by debt collectors, or have our entire livelihoods denied by wage garnishments and social security offsets. On top of that, skyrocketing student debt disproportionately harms the most vulnerable people in our communities and it perpetuates existing disparities for minority students and students of color.
Congress must make college free for those who cannot afford it and forgive all student loan debt.
Lisa from Lawrenceville:
I am outraged that many members of Congress are supporting the idea of forcing taxpayers to pay off all outstanding student loan debt.
I encourage you to publicly oppose this irresponsible and unaffordable proposal and to vote against any legislation that would cancel student loan debt. A student loan bailout would cost taxpayers as much as $1.5 trillion – a slap in the face to every American who has scrimped and saved to pay off student loan debt as promised. Those Americans who have paid off their own student loans and who have worked hard to pay for their own or their children’s college education should not be forced to pay again for others to attend college debt-free!
In addition, a student loan bailout would send a terrible message to younger generations about core values that our nation was founded on like personal responsibility and individual initiative, undermine self-sufficiency, and increase dependency on government. Again, I urge you to oppose any effort to provide a taxpayer-funded student loan bailout.
Let’s start where we can find common ground: I share Patricia’s concerns about the rising cost of attending college and the high student loan debt many graduates have as a result. Because of this, I understand the importance of flexibility in student loan repayment options. However, subsidizing college tuition doesn’t make attending college less expensive - it actually leaves colleges and universities little incentive to lower tuition rates knowing full well that taxpayers will foot the bill. We encourage students to borrow massive amounts of money through federally guaranteed loans who then graduate from college with $250,000 in debt and no job. That isn’t serving students; it’s condemning them.
I believe we could serve students better by redirecting our billions in loans into co-op programs, work study programs, apprenticeship programs, and more. That way more students can graduate debt-free, with real skills and real job prospects.
That being said, we live in the great state of Georgia, where our state schools provide phenomenal opportunities at reasonable prices. I cannot hope to change the approach that every other state takes to providing for their students, but I can commit to you that I will continue to make an education in Georgia one of the best, and most affordable in the nation.
Everyone in Congress wants to help young people succeed. For decades, that help has been defined as “as much money as you want to borrow.” As you can see first-hand, the time has come to reevaluate how we help students to succeed.
Local Manufacturing here in the 7th District helps bolster the strength of the American economy. Last week, at the third annual economic development summit and Manufacturers of Distinction and Leadership Awards, local Forsyth teachers, students, and businesses were recognized for their important contributions to local manufacturing. GAF Materials was named the small manufacturer of the year and American BOA as the medium-sized manufacturer of the year. Students received awards for art that celebrated manufacturing in Georgia, and teacher Jon Welsch was named engineering and manufacturing high school educator of the year.
I would like to congratulate you all on these incredible and well-deserved achievements. Without your hard work, local manufacturing here in Georgia would not be as strong and promising as it is today.
- Forsyth County News. Businesses honored at annual manufacturing awards
The 7th District has no shortage of individuals who go above and beyond to make our community a better place to live. Last week, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce named as ‘Citizen of the Year’ one of these incredible public servants—Lawrenceville Mayor Judy Jordan Johnson. First elected as mayor in 2010, Ms. Johnson has been a valuable leader in our community for many years. She spearheaded several redevelopment projects that have transformed our community, including the Lawrenceville Lawn and the college corridor connecting the downtown district with the campus of Georgia Gwinnett College. Although she has chosen against running for reelection this year, Ms. Johnson’s impact will continue to be felt long after she has left office. She has left behind blueprints for her newest projects, like the Lawrenceville Performing Arts Center, which will continue development when her successor takes over.
Ms. Johnson’s work has been incredible, which is why it comes as no surprise she has been selected for this extraordinary honor. I would like to offer my sincerest congratulations and wish her the best of luck moving forward.
- Gwinnett Daily Post. Judy Jordan Johnson to receive chamber's 'Citizen of the Year' award
This week marks the third to last D.C. work week before the turn of the new year, and there is still much to do before the second session of the 116th Congress begins on January 7, 2020. Namely, lawmakers must continue negotiations to fund the government before the current Continuing Resolution expires on December 20th, reach an agreement on the United States Mexico-Canada Agreement in hopes of bringing it to the floor for a vote, and continue working to provide long-term reauthorization for several critical programs including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
That said, the House this week will consider another bill from the House Financial Services Committee – H.R. 2534, the “Insider Trading Prohibition Act.” This bill seeks to prohibit insider trading, an act that is already illegal and prosecuted under longstanding anti-fraud statute. I cannot name one serious lawmaker who is opposed to prosecuting bad actors, however, there are concerns that the bill may open the door to more ambiguities and have a chilling effect on the flow of legal market discussions out of fear of not knowing what type of information sharing could be interpreted as insider trading.
With that said, it is my hope that my Democratic colleagues on the Rules Committee will allow amendments to be offered to H.R. 2534 so that we can work in a bipartisan manner to address Members’ concerns and work in unison to successfully establish a clear law defining insider trading.
Member of Congress